There is a great line in an episode of the television show "King of the Hill" in which Lucky tells Peggy Hill that fire isn't the worst thing you can yell in a crowded theater.
"It's Bruce Willis is dead!" the Tom Petty-voiced character explains.
Unlike that classic spoiler, it's no secret in Nevada that four teams - Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Canyon Springs (North Las Vegas) on the boys side along with Gorman and Centennial (Las Vegas) for the girls - are expected to once again battle for supremacy in Class 4A.
Here is a quick preview of each of the three regions:BOYSSunrise RegionCanyon Springs (North Las Vegas)
advanced to the state title game last season and returns three of its five leading scorers, including Boise State signee Michael Thompson
at guard. Also back for the Pioneers are 6-foot-5 senior Jared Brandon
and senior point guard Donald Anderson
. Canyon Springs is off to a 10-0 start after winning the Foothill (Henderson) Holiday Classic gold division title with a 73-55 win over Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.) on Wednesday.
While the Pioneers are the clear favorites, they should get a test in the Northeast League from with a deep and experienced Valley (Las Vegas)
squad that is led by Christian Kessee and Khristian Kirkwood. Also in the mix are Eldorado (Las Vegas)
, which is currently 8-0, and Las Vegas
. Meanwhile, the Southeast League appears wide open with Coronado (Henderson)
and Foothill (Henderson)
as the early favorites.Sunset Region
This just in: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
is pretty good. All kidding aside, though, the two-time defending state champion Gaels are once again the team everyone is chasing despite losing four of five starters. Gorman fell out of the Xcellent 25 High School Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard after dropping two games at the City of Palms Classic in Florida, but remain the top team in the state since Findlay Prep (Henderson) is not eligible for the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs.
Junior swingman Shabazz Muhammad
is No. 4 on the MaxPreps list of players to watch for the Class of 2012
and 6-9 forward Rosco Allen
is No. 71. Junior forward Ben Carter
is also being recruited by the likes of BYU, Nevada, New Mexico, Santa Clara and Utah State. Gorman's toughest games in the Southwest League figure to be against Western (Las Vegas)
, which features Kentrell Washington
, Kenyon Washington and Sir Washington, and high-scoring Sierra Vista (Las Vegas)
. The Northeast League lost several talented players, but Centennial (Las Vegas)
appears to be the favorite.Northern Region
Unlike southern Nevada, there isn't a dominant team up north this season, and several transfers further clouded the picture. Douglas (Minden)
, along with last season's state semifinalists Bishop Manogue (Reno)
and McQueen (Reno)
, were the preseason favorites and are off to solid starts. Hug (Reno)
and perennial contender Reno
are also in the mix, but the 4A Northern title appears up for grabs.
Douglas returns leading scorer Austin Neddenriep
, a senior guard, and the Tigers (7-0) also feature a big front line with 6-7 senior center Jorey Scott
and talented 6-6 sophomore forward Hunter Myers
. Manogue (7-3) had a more-than-respectable showing Saturday against Findlay Prep as Ethan Dillard
knocked down six 3-pointers and scored 30 points in a 93-75 loss at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas. Dillard hit 10 3-pointers en route to 33 points Wednesday in an 81-72 win over Palo Verde (Las Vegas) in the fifth-place game of the Foothill Winter Classic gold division. Andrew Johnson
, a transfer from Carson, leads Hug (9-1).Top seniors
* Aaseem Dixon, Centennial (Las Vegas) -
Averaged 16 points per game as a junior; hearing from several Mountain West Conference schools including Colorado State and Wyoming.* Rollins Stallworth, McQueen -
Led the Lancers in scoring as a junior and reportedly is drawing interest from Boise State and Nevada; also a prospect in football.* Thompson, Canyon Springs -
signed with Boise State.* Dantley Walker, Lincoln County (Panaca) -
Small school standout is still the best pure shooter in the state.GIRLSSunrise Region
Go ahead and mark Jan. 13 and Feb. 8 on your calendars since the Southeast League title figures to be determined by what happens on those days. Defending region champion Liberty (Henderson)
is at Green Valley (Henderson)
in the first clash before the Gators head down St. Rose Parkway for the rematch.
The Patriots advanced to the state semifinals last season and are off to a 9-0 start this season behind Oregon signee Amanda Delgado
, who is one of four starters back. Also returning are senior guards Jade Washington
and Destiny Whitehead
, but Liberty will need to develop a post presence as the season goes along if it expects to challenge for the state title.
Green Valley lost its top three scorers, but does return junior center Angelica Mack. The Gators also feature senior wing Mackenzie Butler, a transfer from Bishop Gorman who sat out last season. Keep an eye on Coronado (Henderson)
as well. Canyon Springs (North Las Vegas)
, led by Kenosha Wright
and Diamond Broadus
, are the favorites in the Northeast League with Las Vegas
figuring to be in the mix as well.Sunset RegionBishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
. Centennial (Las Vegas)
. End of story, really.
Gorman is the defending state champion and returns four of five starters, although the one departure is a huge one in guard Aaryn Ellenberg, who is now at Oklahoma. Still, the Gaels are one of the deepest teams in the state and are led by seniors Chelsie Pitt
and Amber Lane
along with junior Zhane Dikes
. Gorman (6-4) has already played a rugged schedule and will be tested in the Southwest League by Sierra Vista (Las Vegas)
and its standout senior guard Jeanette Jackson
Centennial fell to Gorman in the region final last season and did not advance to the state tournament as a result, but the Bulldogs (7-1) are expected to return this season despite having just two starters back. The 2009 state champions are led by senior guard Courtney Hayes
, who should fill the gap left by Alexis Byrd (now at the University of Portland), along with senior guard Ashley Klemz
and junior Shannon Brown
. Klemz has signed with Utah Valley. Legacy (North Las Vegas)
, Cheyenne (North Las Vegas)
, Cimarron-Memorial (Las Vegas)
and Palo Verde (Las Vegas)
should battle for the remaining three playoff spots, but none of those teams is at Centennial's level.Northern RegionReno (Reno)
and Reed (Sparks)
were the two most dominant teams in the region last season as both teams advanced to the state tournament. Reed fell to the Huskies in the Northern Region title game last season, but knocked off Liberty in the state semifinals before losing 82-59 to Gorman for the state title. The Raiders lost leading scorer Danielle Peacon, who is now at Pacific, but are off to a 7-0 start so far. Meanwhile, Reno (7-0) is also undefeated behind the outstanding play of junior guard Shannon Gough
, who is averaging 20.9 points per game.
Reno will get one of its biggest tests thus far when it hosts Bishop Manogue (Reno)
on Jan. 4. The Miners (11-1) already own a victory over defending Sierra League champion Galena (Reno)
and its standout forward Emily Burns
, who signed with Nevada. The Grizzlies (5-2) along with McQueen (Reno)
(5-2) are expected to make it an interesting race.Top seniors
* Burns, Galena -
The forward was the Northern 4A co-player of the year as a junior and an all-state selection; she signed with Nevada.* Delgado, Liberty -
After a strong junior season and summer, she signed with Oregon.* Hayes, Centennial -
The versatile guard signed in November with Louisiana Tech.* Rachel Morris, Virgin Valley (Mesquite) -
The 6-foot-3 center is averaging 16 points and 13.8 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who are one of the favorites in Class 3A; she signed with Utah.GORMAN FINISHES IN RANKINGS
The Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
football team ended the season at No. 25 in the Xcellent 25 High School Football Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
The Gaels (13-2) won their second straight Class 4A championship earlier this month with a 40-0 victory over McQueen. Gorman's only losses came to De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), which won the California Interscholastic Federation Open Division bowl championship, and Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), the Arizona 5A-I state champions.
De La Salle finished No. 3 in the rankings after routing Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), which has already signed a two-year contract to play Gorman starting in 2011. Hamilton was No. 21.
Gorman is expected to return 10 starters on offense and as many as six defensive starters, meaning the Gaels will likely be nationally ranked to open the 2011 season.David Schoen works at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and is a former Associate Sports Editor and Turn2 columnist for the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune. You can reach him at ByDavid1@aol.com.